Can children develop ptsd?

The child might experience this trauma directly or witness it happen to someone else. When children have long-term symptoms (more than a month). All children can experience very stressful events that affect the way they think and feel. Most of the time, children recover well and quickly.

However, sometimes children who experience intense stress, such as from an injury, death, or the threat of death of a family member or close friend, or because of violence, are affected in the long term. When children have long-term symptoms (more than a month) from that stress that bother them or interfere with their relationships and activities, they may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

in children and adolescents are very different from those in adults. As such, the treatment of PTSD in adolescents and children requires a specialized and comprehensive approach.

When people think of post-traumatic stress disorder in children or teens, they often relate it to events such as the shooting in Florida or other acts of mass violence. Of course, these children need all the support in the world, but childhood post-traumatic stress disorder is much more common than you might think. Stanford estimates that about 4% of children will be exposed to some type of trauma before the age of 18, which will cause the development of PTSD in children. Considering that many traumatic events and symptoms go unreported, it's no exaggeration to conclude that this number is likely to be much higher.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in children usually appear one to three months after an event. However, it's not uncommon for post-traumatic stress disorder to develop many years after the event occurred, which is why comprehensive mental health care is so crucial. Even far from Florida, many children and teens may experience symptoms of PTSD simply by seeing disturbing news about events like this, which can produce feelings of instability and fear. Younger children may show more fearful and regressive behaviors (returning to a previous level of development) and can recreate trauma through play.

Because the event was traumatic, children may not want to talk about the event, so a highly trained health provider may be needed to talk to the children and their families. It's not exactly known why some children develop post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing stressful and traumatic events, and others don't. Not everyone expresses themselves in the same way, so it's important to fully understand what the symptoms of PTSD are in children than in adolescents or adults.

Clarissa Tohill
Clarissa Tohill

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